Citation and Fine
Yes, you can actually get a ticket from your licensing board. Several years ago licensing boards in California obtained the authority from the legislature to issue citations and levy a fine against you for certain violations of the practice act not considered serious enough to file an Accusation. The most common behavior leading to a citation is misrepresentation of your license status. If you are a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor advertising yourself as a Marriage and Family Therapist the Board can cite you and fine you. This applies to Yellow Page listing, social media including Facebook, a website or on Twitter. It also applies to newspaper adds and articles in papers about you. Fines range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. The good news is you have the right to a hearing. The bad news is your initial hearing is before the enforcement coordinator and an enforcement analyst but may include a lawyer for the Board as well as an executive. You have the right to be represented by an attorney at a Cite and Fine hearing. If you lose at the hearing then you have the right to petition for a hearing before a neutral administrative law judge. By the way, Boards have telephone disconnect authority meaning they can actually disconnect your professional telephones.
Forced Psychiatric Evaluations
In a very surprising type of action a Board may order is to force you to undergo a psychiatric evaluation paid for by you! This is especially true for the Board of Psychology and the Board of Behavioral Sciences along with the Medical Board which licenses psychiatrists. At the writing of this page licensing boards do not even need “Good Cause” before ordering forced evaluation of you. In a recent case the CA Board of Psychology argued they didn’t need “Good Cause” to order a licensee to undergo an evaluation. This authority is being challenged currently at the appellate level. A Board may order a licensee or subjected to a forced psychiatric evaluation even before you have been found guilty of any violation of the licensing law pertinent to your profession. In addition, in cases in which you are found to have violated a licensing law some boards require you to be examined psychiatrically as a standard term or condition of probation. This practice is shocking especially for the mental health boards.
Boards use fake patients as part of their investigative authority to gather information about you to be used against you. This happens in cases involving very serious allegations against a licensed professional. The most typical types of situations warranting the use of a fake patient is in a allegations of sexual misconduct, insurance fraud and unlicensed practice. I have seen it used frequently in cases involving exam preparation courses when the teacher of the course is licensed and a Board suspects inside knowledge used to help applicants for a license prepare for a particular exam. An investigator poses as a patient then induces the professional to commit the act(s) alleged in a complaint. The information gathered by the investigator is then used against the licensee to prove guilt by the professional.
During an investigation a licensing Board has the authority to request you be interviewed. Depending on the investigator you may be told it is not a big deal and it is informal. Investigators are licensed peace officers and one goal they have is to obtain a confession! Investigations ARE BIG DEALS! Never go to a investigative interview without a lawyer. These interviews are recorded and eventually transcribed. There may be one of two investigators present, a deputy attorney general and an expert who has reviewed your file. A lawyer is needed to protect your rights and prevent you from making statements that might cause legal harm to you.
An Accusation is a formal document a licensing board uses to see forth public allegations against a person with a professional license. It is authorized in the California Government Code. When a Board issues a Accusation they have spent time and money investigating a matter either based upon a complaint from a member of the public of initiated by the Board itself, sua sponte. It is a document served on a licensee and starts the formal legal process of prosecution of that individual. The document is converted into a .pdf file and attached to your name on the Board’s official website. It merely recites a litany of specific allegations along with the jurisdiction for pursuing action formally. If you didn’t get a lawyer before you absolutely need one when there is an accusation against you. There are many precise legal procedures necessary to properly defend you. Dr. Ebert and his team has skillfully defended many licensed professional with accusations.
Notices of complaints against you, Letters of Inquiry, Responses to Letters of Inquiry, Investigations are Confidential but an Accusation and Cite and Fine Results are Public!